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"Young Mark Twain in Trenton, 1869," at the Trenton City Museum Feb 23 - March 3

150 years ago, on February 23, 1869, a young man named Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name "Mark Twain," came to Trenton.  He drew a crowd to the Taylor Opera House on South Broad Street.  He gave a speech on the topic of his then-recent trip to Europe and the Holy Land.  At age 34, Mark Twain was at the start of his great literary career.  

Beginning Saturday February 23 the Trenton City Museum will recall this visit during "Young Mark Twain in Trenton, 1869 Week"   Each day the Museum is open Feb 23 to March 1, a total of five days, urban historian David Bosted will give an historical talk and will answer questions between 2 and 3 PM on Mark Twain's 1869 visit and the beginning of the Gilded Age in Trenton.  

In 1869, Mark Twain was gaining recognition for his special brand of satirical humor and as a travel writer.  But most of his celebrated accomplishments were still in his future.  For example, Mark Twain had worked as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War, but his much-read book Life on the Mississippi (1883) was years in the future.

In 1869 the City of Trenton and the entire United States were entering an era of unprecedented industrial growth and prosperity. Mark Twain himself gave a name to this historical era. He called it "The Gilded Age." Historians have applied this title to the post-Civil War period.  The United States had just concluded a catastrophic Civil War and a period of economic depression.  "Young Mark Twain in Trenton, 1869 Week" will put a spotlight on the early career of Mark Twain and the transformation of Trenton that was underway at the time of his visit.

The Museum has located a copy of the speech that the satirist gave on his Feb 23, 1869 visit to Trenton.  It will be discussed and will be available to read.  

The humorist returned to Trenton at the end of 1869 and gave a second talk.  The Museum also has located a copy of that talk, which will also be available to interested readers.

Both speeches had a public relations function.  The speeches were intended to arose interest in two books by Mark Twain that were about to be published.  The books were Roughing It (1869) about his travels in the American West and The Innocents Abroad (1870).  The Innocents Abroadwas the best-selling book of his long career, with sales exceeding both the semi-autobiographical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(1885).

The Trenton Museum Society of the Trenton City Museum will exhibit an important sculpture of Mark Twain by noted Delaware Valley sculptor Zenos Frudakis.  A special talk by ZenosFrudakis will discuss this Mark Twain portrait sculpture, and other Frudakis portrait sculptures, on Sunday March 3 at 2 PM as a conclusion to the "Young Mark Twain in Trenton, 1869" exhibit.  

Admission for the Museum is Free.  Donations are accepted to support the work of the Trenton Museum Society.   

Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion

Wednesday - Saturday 12 noon -  4:00 p.m.   Sunday 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Municipal Holidays

Visit for more information and directions 



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